By Chris Olds | Baseball Editor
The lineup card, several baseballs and the locker nameplate used in Bryce Harper‘s first minor league game have all been authenticated and stashed away for upcoming auctions, according to a baseball employee who gave Beckett Media an exclusive peek at some of the items this week.
Harper, the No.1 pick in last year’s draft by the Washington Nationals, is presently playing for the Class A Hagerstown Suns in Hagerstown, Md., where he is hitting .306 with three home runs and 14 RBIs through his first 15 games as a pro. Harper went 3-for-3 with six RBIs on Friday night, falling a triple short of hitting for the cycle as his team rolled over the Hickory Crawdads, 17-1.
The items will likely hit the block when he is promoted to the Nationals — just like items were sold when Stephen Strasburg arrived last year — or if Harper garners some substantial national attention this season, said the official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The insider said there are no additional plans to acquire items for auction beyond those from Harper’s debut game during the regular season.
“We authenticated his first AFL game and his first MiLB game,” the insider said. “Other possible games may include All-Star Futures Game and, obviously, his MLB Debut. We do have plans for other top prospects.”
In the works, the insider said, is a top prospects auction program where collectors who are intensely following certain players will have a chance to obtain unquestionably authentic memorabilia before a player makes it to The Show. The insider said the added exposure on promising prospects via the Internet and MiLB.tv make it worth the costs of acquiring the items, though obtaining items from farm teams near MLB team locations will help curb costs.
“Strasburg and Harper are more the exception as they probably would’ve drawn attention anyway, but for players like Eric Hosmer, Brandon Belt, Dustin Ackley, etc., more and more fans are hearing/seeing their names as the next star,” the insider said. “And when these fans realize that they’re playing in a nearby minor league ballpark with easier access and affordable ticket prices it makes collecting a ‘no-brainer.'”
Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an e-mail to him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.